Andriy Khvetkevych founds a web3 company in the US and raises a $120k investment
Andriy Khvetkevych, co-owner of the Ukrainian domain registrar NIC.UA, founded a new business in the United States. It’s NicNames, a company that will sell domains on the blockchain that will also work on the regular Internet. According to the co-founder, this is the world’s first project of that kind. The company has already been certified by ICANN. In his commentary to AIN.Capital, Andriy told the editor about the business model of his new company, the search for investors, and his plans.
Andriy Khvetkevych and his business partners started thinking about business abroad after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which caused the outflow of customers of Ukrainian companies. They chose the US because Khvetkevych has lived there for about eight years and knows the market. His first business, NIC.UA, was a domain registrar, so the new business was also meant to work in this area. The issue was the very competitive US market, so they had to come up with something new.
“We were thinking about the business model and how we would differentiate ourselves from others because this industry has many large companies in the US and globally. GoDaddy is the world’s No. 1 domain registration company, and we didn’t want to be like GoDaddy. We wanted to come up with something different,” he said.
NicNames will be a domain registrar, an entity that will sell and register domains for businesses and individuals. But, according to Khvetkevych, its co-owner and CEO, it will be the first business to combine domains, tokenization, blockchain, and NFTs. How exactly will it work?
The domain market players have long discussed the transition to web3 and blockchain. Many domains work only on the blockchain (and cannot be resolved in a regular browser), such as .nft, .crypto, and .eth domains. For example, Unstoppable Domains is engaged in registering such domains. They facilitate the work with crypto wallets (using domains instead of transferring wallet data). According to the CEO of NicNames, there is a demand for domains that will work both in the blockchain and on the regular Internet.
Domains sold by the company will be registered as NFTs: a client will buy an NFT domain in the form of, for example, nickname.eth. Entries to this domain (e.g., a cryptocurrency wallet number) or other data will be recorded in the blockchain. Such a domain will work on the blockchain and the regular Internet via DNS.
One of the use cases is the identification of a company’s wallet. Clients who want to send crypto to a company don’t need to provide crypto wallet details, just the website domain. Over time, such a domain on the blockchain will be able to link business licenses, intellectual property rights (we wrote about Khvetkevych’s NFT Patent project earlier), and, in the case of individuals, digital documents such as passports.
According to Khvetkevych, NFT is used here as a technology for domain tokenization (and also provides the client with different statuses). For example, such a domain can be sold in minutes, without using escrow accounts, through a smart contract (now, if a person wants to buy a domain from someone on the Internet, it takes a month on average).
Office & Team
The project’s co-founders, in addition to Andriy Khvetkevych, are CTO Serg Pokrovskyy and CDO Sergey Bulakh. They plan to launch an office in the United States with support staff, while the main development center will be in Ukraine. To do this, they want to recruit up to 20 people, primarily programmers with experience in blockchain.
The co-founders invested about $120,000 in the company. One of them estimates the investment in the code that runs NicNames services at $2 million (this refers to NIC.UA services that had to be updated for a web3 project).
The company plans to launch its website shortly. In October 2023, they also plan to launch domain registration with a premium subscription. Eventually, the service will include the possibility of registering a business in the United States, with all the necessary legal procedures, intellectual property registration, and a bank account. It will allow a startup that buys a domain for a project to register a business, link all essential data (such as patents) to the domain simultaneously, and subsequently show it to investors.
According to Khvetkevych, the company has already received the first requests: Some NIC.UA clients want to transfer their domains from a Ukrainian company to an American one. NicNames is also currently negotiating with investors and looking for a $5-million round for further development. The company plans to become profitable within six to twelve months after the launch.